Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4, £180,720
IN THE olden days, when Raymond Baxter was on the television and you had to have two O-levels to be a policeman, a family saloon took about 20 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour, which then turned out to be its top speed. Whereas a supercar such as the Ferrari 308 GTB would get to 60mph in a dizzying 6.7 seconds and then keep on accelerating all the way to an almost unbelievable 155mph.
Today, however, family saloon cars can do 155mph, and so to keep ahead of the pack, supercars are now so fast that if you keep your foot hard down on the throttle in second, third or fourth gear for more than about three seconds you will lose control and crash into a tree. This is a fact. And if you don’t believe me, put “supercar crash” into Google. You’ll get more than 1.3m hits.
It’s not simply the speed and the power that cause these crashes, either. It’s the fact that today supercars are no harder to operate than a knife and fork. In a Seventies Lamborghini you really had to work for a living. The clutch pedal felt as if it was set in concrete, the interior was as hot as the middle of a star, the steering was heavier than dark matter and usually you died of heat exhaustion from reversing out of your garage.
A modern supercar doesn’t feel like that at all. Even the Bugatti Veyron is no more dramatic to drive than a Volkswagen Golf. This lulls people into a false sense of security. They think they can handle the savagery that lives under the bonnet. So with a big grin they shout, “Watch this!” to their passenger, and stamp on the throttle — which means three seconds later they are going through the Pearly Gates, backwards, in a cloud of fire and screaming.
When I drove the McLaren P1 around the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Belgium recently, it was raining and I didn’t use full throttle once. But of course you know that, because I’m still here, writing this.
It was much the same story with the Ferrari F12berlinetta that I drove over a Cairngorm in the snow a couple of years ago. I think I may have used full power once, for about a 200th of a second. But I was in seventh gear at the time, doing 24mph. And still a bit of poo came out.
“The Huracan. Sounds good, yes? But like almost all Lamborghinis, it’s named after a stabbed cow”
I love that these idiotic cars exist. And I love that we live in a world where all you need to buy one is some money. The government doesn’t insist on any special training; it simply says, “Can you reverse round a corner?” If you demonstrate that you can, then you are allowed to buy a car that can do 250mph. That’s fantastic when you think about it.
However, while I will applaud the people who buy these vehicles, I wouldn’t — because what’s the point of buying a car so scary-fast you don’t dare use more than half of what’s available?
Much better, if you want a snazzy mid-engined rocketship, is to come down a peg or two and buy something from the Little League. The new Ferrari 488 GTB looks as though it might be quite interesting, and there’s always the McLaren [insert whatever name it is using today] — that’s a good car as well.
But come on: you aren’t really buying a supercar for the speed, are you? It’s because you like the way it looks. Yes it is. Be honest.
And if that’s the case, then really the one-stop shop has always been Lamborghini, purveyor through history of motorcars that are demonstrably worse than the equivalent Ferrari but that look sen-bleeding-sational.
Let us examine the case of the recently departed Gallardo. It was not as nice to drive as the Ferrari 458 Italia. And yet more than 14,000 people bought one. Me included. And Richard Hammond. Why? Because it was — and will remain — one of the best-looking cars ever made.
All of which brings me on to the Gallardo’s replacement, the car you see in the photographs. The Huracan. Sounds good, yes? As though it’s named after the most cataclysmic weather event known to man? Yes, but it isn’t. Like almost all Lamborghinis, it’s named after a stabbed cow.
And straight away there’s a problem. It is striking, for sure, but is it as striking as a Lamborghini should be? This is a descendant of the mad Countach and the bonkers Diablo. What you want from Lambo is a Game of Thrones assault on the senses, and, I dunno, the Huracan is a bit Wolf Hall. And, whisper this, I don’t even think it’s particularly good-looking. Look at it from directly behind and it has the exact same silhouette as a loaf of bread. This is not a good thing.
“What you want from Lambo is a Game of Thrones assault on the senses, and the Huracan is a bit Wolf Hall”
Don’t be too disheartened, though, because beneath the Hovis styling you get four-wheel drive, a carbon fibre and aluminium chassis that is light and easy to fix, a snappy flappy-paddle gearbox (manual isn’t available) and, joy of joys, a normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10.
It’s fitted with a stop-start system for city driving, but don’t be fooled: a motor such as this runs on baby polar bears and causes extreme weather events. And it sounds completely wonderful.
I have heard it said there’s too much understeer when you really open the taps, but I didn’t notice any of that. I thought it was a joyous car to drive. In Road (Strada) mode it’s extremely comfortable, and if you go for Track (Corsa) or Sport on the Soul button on the steering wheel, it is fast. But not so fast you actually soil yourself. (Although there is a tremendous Huracan crash on the internet, during which both occupants almost certainly had a bit of a trouser accident.)
Apart from the lack of a cupholder, this is a car you could and would use every day. It’s not so big that it’s hopeless in town, the dashboard is wonderful to behold, and it’s comforting to know that behind the scenes everything is made by Audi. The next R8, in fact, will be a Huracan with Lamborghini crossed out and the word Audi written on, in crayon.
There is, however, one problem that drove me mad. Italy’s motor industry finally mastered the art of making a decent driving position a few years ago, yet now Lamborghini has forgotten and mounted the seat far too high.
This means you sort of look down on the interior rather than across it, but worse, because the windscreen is a long way away and there’s a lot of roof between you and it, it’s as if you’re driving round in a preposterous peaked cap. And that means when you are waiting at a set of lights, you can’t see when they go green. You only know you have to set off when the chap behind starts beeping.
Oh, and I have to mention the steering-wheel-mounted switches for the indicators and wipers. No, Lamborghini. Just no. I know Ferrari did it first, but as my teachers used to say when I’d been caught copying, “If Wilkins jumped off a cliff, would you jump off one too?”
Niggles aside, though, this is an interesting car because it’s an other-way-round Lamborghini. It doesn’t look very exciting but it’s tremendous to drive. Really tremendous, actually. Around something called “the Top Gear test track” it was faster, apparently, than its big brother, the Aventador.
Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 specifications
- Price: £180,720
- Engine: 5204cc, V10
- Power: 602bhp @ 8250rpm
- Torque: 412lb ft @ 6500rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
- Performance: 0-62mph in 3.2sec
- Top speed: 202mph
- Fuel: 22.6mpg (combined)
- CO2: 290g/km
- Road tax band: M (£1,100 for first year; £505 thereafter)
- Release date: On sale now